Wants mobile providers to up their game and reduce the chances of nasty bill surprises.

Ofcom takes aim at mobile ‘bill shock’

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom has described an ‘action plan’ for reducing so-called mobile phone ‘bill shocks’, warning service providers that if the measures do not "sufficiently reduce consumer harm" the regular may force providers to play ball.

Ofcom unveiled a review of the causes of bill shock, citing the download of data while roaming outside of the UK and using smartphones which downloaded data without the owner realising. Plain mobile voice calls were also cited as a culprit, particularly calling numbers which were not covered by package allowances.

"Ofcom believes mobile providers can do more to help customers control the amount they spend on their mobile phones," the regulator said in a release.

The watchdog said that it had asked mobile providers to develop and to promote "opt-in" measures by allowing consumers to set their own financial caps as well as setting the level of usage alerts.

Ofcom also criticised telcos regarding stolen phones, noting that bills rung up on mobiles often leave the customer liable for the call charges which could be as much as thousands of pounds. The regulator wants to introduce maximum liability limits to avoid the worst case scenarios.

Overly complicated plans with obfuscated data charges also came in for criticism with Ofcom calling on service providers to improve the transparency of various tariffs.

The regulator also published a guide for consumers relating to unexpectedly high bills.

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